Monday, May 21, 2007

Wednesday May 21

Received a letter from Fule
with some details of His last
days, How he suffered,
God give me strength to
enable myself to help my
stricken family,

They are all poor and
broken and need my help
so badly, and oh how I
want to help them while
at the same time I am
without means to do so

However I will tomorrow
try to get a loan of $100, and
help them, and this shall
bring me comfort in my
great bereavement.


Matt's Notes

Fule (pronounced "Full-ya") was Papa's youngest sister and the only other sibling besides Nettie and Clara to make it out of Sniatyn, though she emigrated to Palestine just before World War II and was never part of New York's Lower East Side community (Papa's brother Isaac and sisters Gitel and Ettel were killed along with Sniatyn's other Jews during the Nazi occupation). We can only guess at how Fule described the decline of Papa's father in her letter; perhaps he developed an infection or contracted pneumonia after sustaining a bad fall back in February.

Papa must have found this letter overwhelming. He would have been hungry for information about his father, but details of his pain or sleepless nights or insensate, feverish mutterings would have been bitter sustenance indeed. Still, Papa is no longer the helpless mourner he was while sitting shiva a few days ago. He's developed a way to deal actively to combat his grief: he's going to take on personal debt and send home even more money than he normally did.

His true generosity of spirit is on display here in its most admirable form. Even while feeling every bit as "stricken" and "broken" as his family, he privately decides the best way to deal with it is through difficult self-sacrifice and service to others. How many people in this world become genuinely less self-interested under painful stress? He's the real thing.